It looks like Greif, Inc. (NYSE:GEF) is about to go ex-dividend in the next 4 days. Investors can purchase shares before the 16th of September in order to be eligible for this dividend, which will be paid on the 1st of October.
Greif's next dividend payment will be US$0.44 per share, and in the last 12 months, the company paid a total of US$1.76 per share. Based on the last year's worth of payments, Greif has a trailing yield of 4.7% on the current stock price of $37.66. If you buy this business for its dividend, you should have an idea of whether Greif's dividend is reliable and sustainable. So we need to check whether the dividend payments are covered, and if earnings are growing.
If a company pays out more in dividends than it earned, then the dividend might become unsustainable - hardly an ideal situation. Greif paid out more than half (58%) of its earnings last year, which is a regular payout ratio for most companies. Yet cash flow is typically more important than profit for assessing dividend sustainability, so we should always check if the company generated enough cash to afford its dividend. Thankfully its dividend payments took up just 45% of the free cash flow it generated, which is a comfortable payout ratio.
It's encouraging to see that the dividend is covered by both profit and cash flow. This generally suggests the dividend is sustainable, as long as earnings don't drop precipitously.
Have Earnings And Dividends Been Growing?
Companies that aren't growing their earnings can still be valuable, but it is even more important to assess the sustainability of the dividend if it looks like the company will struggle to grow. If business enters a downturn and the dividend is cut, the company could see its value fall precipitously. It's not encouraging to see that Greif's earnings are effectively flat over the past five years. It's better than seeing them drop, certainly, but over the long term, all of the best dividend stocks are able to meaningfully grow their earnings per share.
Another key way to measure a company's dividend prospects is by measuring its historical rate of dividend growth. In the last 10 years, Greif has lifted its dividend by approximately 1.5% a year on average.
The Bottom Line
Should investors buy Greif for the upcoming dividend? We're not enthused by the flat earnings per share, although at least the company's payout ratio is within reasonable bounds. Additionally, it paid out a lower percentage of its free cash flow, so at least it generated more cash than it spent on dividends. Overall we're not hugely bearish on the stock, but there are likely better dividend investments out there.
Ever wonder what the future holds for Greif? See what the seven analysts we track are forecasting, with this visualisation of its historical and future estimated earnings and cash flow
If you're in the market for dividend stocks, we recommend checking our list of top dividend stocks with a greater than 2% yield and an upcoming dividend.
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